Liverpool season preview – Anfield expects top-four finish as Dalglish splashes the cash

At the end of the storm is a golden sky…” – Liverpool fans may sing these famous words at every match, but never has an expression been so appropriate to describe the dramatic changes which have taken place at the club over the past 12 months. This time last year, the Merseyside outfit – still under the ownership of the much-maligned American duo Tom Hicks and George Gillett – entered the season hoping that new manager Roy Hodgson would guide them back into the Premier League’s top-four. But the signings of Christian Poulsen and Paul Konchesky soon destroyed that hope and things went from bad to worse.

At one point last season, Liverpool found themselves in crisis both on-and-off-the-field. Not only did the Reds found themselves struggling in the top-flight, but the club were also fighting in court to rid themselves of their hated American owners. It may have been uncomfortable, but Liverpool rode the storm. What came next was the emergence of a golden sky – a light at the end of a tunnel.

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New owner John Henry and his Fenway Sports Group secured control of the club and soon after, the under-performing Hodgson was replaced by Reds legend Kenny Dalglish. Results improved and even Fernando Torres’ departure was turned into a positive as the classy Luis Suarez and £35m Andy Carroll were drafted in as replacements. Liverpool eventually finished in a relatively respectable sixth position, with those final six months of the season filling fans with great optimism for the future.

Liverpool may not challenge for the Premier League title this season, but at least the house is in order. FSG have spent a further £45m this summer to allow Dalglish to strengthen the squad, while other players who could not quite cut it at Anfield have moved on. Having spent heavily on creative midfielders, owner Henry is expecting Liverpool to secure a Champions League spot come the end of the season. He is not the only one.

Following great success in Europe’s prestigious competition during the Rafael Benitez era, Reds fans are desperate for more glorious European nights at Anfield. Dalglish has been handed the opportunity to satisfy the demands of the club’s passionate, yet hungry supporters. Unlike last year however, those supporters are 100% united behind their manager. Make no mistake, Dalglish is – and will always be – one of the most popular managers in the country,

Some expected that popularity to take a hit following the signings of Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing. After all, the trio are not deemed to be as exciting and technically gifted as foreigners such as Valencia’s Juan Mata. However, fans realise that the players brought in will provide great supply for target man Andy Carroll, which could consequently result in more goals.

The Anfield faithful want to see more goals and eye-catching football, but above all they would like to see trophies. Going from sixth to first would be nothing short of a miracle, but winning a cup competition would be welcome. If Dalglish can provide a trophy and a top-four league finish next May, then many would consider that a job well done.

Manager – Kenny Dalglish: There has been a real feel-good factor around Anfield since Dalglish returned as boss in January. The Scot proved he is still a capable manager by turning the Reds’ fortunes around last season and fans are waiting to see whether he can repeat that success over the course of a whole campaign.

Key signing – Stewart Downing: Dalglish reportedly paid up to £20m to secure the services of the England international and Downing has looked lively in pre-season. Liverpool have needed a quality out-and-out winger for many years now and they may have finally found the perfect player to fulfil that role.

Key departure – Sammy Lee: Lee was appointed as assistant manager by Benitez in 2008 and was retained by Hodgson. He also worked alongside Dalglish, before leaving the club during the summer. A popular figure among the players and staff, Lee will be missed at Anfield. Kevin Keen has since been added to the coaching staff.

Possible XI:


Johnson – Carragher – Agger – Aurelio

Lucas – Gerrard

Kuyt – Suarez – Downing


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